Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Travelog: Shanghai

While Beijing was all about historical attractions, Shanghai was a luxury escape.  It may have been because we were constantly on the move in the capital city, but by the time we got to Shanghai, room service was calling our name.  We didn't come to China for this?!   We reminded ourselves that it was ok to give up a few hours of sightseeing for a little R&R, which made all the difference.  By the afternoon, we were refreshed and ready to take on the big city.

Finding a balance when traveling is always key.
Our hotel was the perfect backdrop to relaxation and we couldn't have asked for a better view of the skyline from our room.

First stop, The Bund.  This promenade along the water is in the heart of the city and a widely popular tourist destination.  There is plenty of eclectic and historical architecture to look at along the way!

While walking past the popular Oriental Pearl TV Tower, we came across this elaborate traffic circle where a pedestrian roundabout was built above the street. Random?  
The most hilarious fail of the trip was The Bund Sightseeing Tunnel.  It's like Shanghai didn't have enough tourist attractions, so they built this super cheesy tunnel to entice travelers around the world to visit (not!).  Essentially, it's a slow-moving tram that flashes lights and plays 'Back to the Future' music as you scoot along in a carriage with other naive tourists.  Major fail…but we got such a laugh out of it, that maybe it was worth the rip off.
To give you an idea just how fast Shanghai has grown over a 20 year period, these two images compare the skyline from 1987 to 2013.  We found Shanghai to be highly westernized and a major modern city.
My favorite part of Shanghai, though, was exploring the streets of Old Town.  The first part of our walk was down a street to the tea markets.  I got my fix of China's signature green tea with almost every meal!
The image of an older woman making homemade dumplings stacked ten bamboo steamers high is one of my standouts of the trip. In the second picture, this woman is spraying down all the produce to keep them from wilting in the scorching heat.
Walking down this hectic residential street, we also saw everything from fresh vegetables and grains, to sleeping babies, to bicycles stacked high of unknown goods, and antique sewing machines. 
The most bizarre thing we came across was this "pet shop".  Men gathered around selecting the "perfect" cricket, which is a symbol for good luck in their culture.  
We ended our walk at Dongtai Road Antique Market, which is full of junk, treasures, and random finds. Right up my alley!!  And thanks to my patient husband for letting me do my thing as I sorted through miles of dust and history.   
Where's Waldo? By Waldo I mean the Texas Tech nutcracker perfectly placed among the junk.  Yes, junk.  We survived the scorching hot day and miles of walking, but just barely.  Do you see me hugging the hotel in relief when the day was all said and done?!  
Food diaries.
Lots of fish, dumplings, peking duck pancakes, and afternoon refuels!  We couldn't resist the DQ blizzard to make us feel a bit at "home".

Our short visit to China gave us even more reason to want to visit less popular tourist destinations and reminded us that we have lots of the world left to see!  Speaking of traveling, my sweet friend from college and nursing school is visiting us with her best friend for the next week or so.  So far, we have had an amazing time and hit all the must see attractions.  I can't wait to show you their time with us!  Personal tour guide at your service….

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